mission (not) accomplishedIs  90 percent of your online ad campaign invisible to your target audience? Nonsense.

Online advertising is all about razor-sharp targeting. Responsible advertisers and agencies stake their reputations and livliehoods on their ability to send the right message to the right person at the right time.

Except when they don’t.

A shattering report in ClickZ
looks at just a few recent scenarios of campaigns torpedoed by the
overworked, over-stressed worker bees in ad ops. And the people on the
buy side who ignore them.

To wit:

  • One large advertiser learned 90 percent of its campaign was
    appearing outside the United States. The target audience was U.S. women
  • A highly regional mattress campaign appeared all over the country,
    as well as in foreign climes, even though the product could only be
    shipped within a small, specific geo-targeted zone.
  • An ad network discovered the tags on an ad campaign were erroneous.
    They notified the agency, but after three days with no response, took
    the initiative and fixed the tags themselves.

According to ComScore research, up to 80 percent of large online ad
camapigns more or less routinely fail, largely due to impressions that
go wildly astray.

There’s no shortage of finger pointing around this little-discussed
issue, and an almost willful tendancy to don blinders at this
unglamorous but critical phase of online advertising.

Online advertising is really, really complicated. Yes, it’s tehnology-based, but not all technology is set-it-and-forget-it.  We talk about optimizing campaigns on-the-fly, but apparently can’t even get them set up to perfom at minimally acceptable standards the first time. Beleagured ad ops staff are operating in “fire-drill mode,” a practice that’s dobutless only increasing as staffing levels are cut and those employees who are left at advertising companies struggle to plug the gaps left by departed coworkers.

Work is farmed out further and further downstream. It’s not just agencies who aren’t responding to ad networks, but ad networks who subcontract bits and pieces of campaigns to other companies in the space. This creates a situation in which no one, really, has a 360 view of what’s actually happening to what components of a campaign.

And all this circles back again to technology. There may be over 300 ad networks, but there’s no unified solution — yet — to track everything from insertion order to creative to coding to billing (though some trade organizations are working on establishing standards in these areas).

So it looks as if, for the short term at least, it’s up to the advertiser to make certain what’s supposed to happen, does. And that may mean calling in third-party monitoring services to oversee and track campaigns.

All this can hep make online camapigns more effective. But it’s not going to make them cheaper.